Sharks coach on rivalry with Kings, Quick, Carter and Richards

Following the Sharks’ morning skate at Staples Center on Wednesday, here’s what San Jose coach Todd McLellan had to share on a myriad of topics…

On Marty Havlat returning:

“Marty is playing his first game of the season. He hasn’t had an exhibition season. For Marty to be effective on our team environment, you have to play with some tempo and some speed. He knows that, and he can play that way. We’ll look for that tonight, but not only tonight, over the next three, four games. No different than Brad Stuart coming back, you’re not always coming back at the top of your game. You have to be able to work your way in and get yourself going.”

On if Havlat has something to prove:

“Marty has proven throughout his career that he is a very capable, high-end, national hockey league player.That should continue here. The way the game is being played, or the way we would like to play it, that for me is the proven part. It’s not about scoring goals and having the skill and all that type of stuff. Can he play his game in our structure, our environment, and be effective. That is the only thing that he has to prove to anybody- to himself or to his teammates or to the coaching staff. And we certainly believe he can.”

On if Long Beach native Matt Nieto is not playing because he’s not ready or because of Havlat’s return:

“I want to get Marty in the lineup. I’m sure that we aren’t going to fool around with a successful lineup. If Matty is still not 100%, he hasn’t skated for three days, to put him in may be not only fair to him, but to his teammates. After that, there is a good chance that this would be a good time for Marty to go in and get his first game under his belt.”

On the rivalry with the Kings:

“I’d like to see our group excited about the opportunity, not bringing them down. The black and silver team is a pretty darn good hockey club. They’ve proven it year after year here over the last little bit. They know where they are in their season as well, so they’re going to come out and play extremely hard. We’ve had a couple of playoff series with the Kings. Both series have been hard fought, they’ve been exciting, they’ve been fun to be a part of for both teams and for the fans. So, the rivalry is growing- Kings and Sharks- and tonight is just another notch in it.”

On if one of the Sharks’ goals is to beat the Kings on home ice after the playoffs last year:

“As soon as the year ends, you immediately go and you start breaking down your strengths and weaknesses and what you want to accomplish over the summer to get ready for the following year. LA got in our way, we didn’t get in their way, they were in ours and they won on home ice. We have to be able to win in this building and find a way to get one more goal. That’s really the difference, either up north or down south here. I think there is a bigger tendency for 29 teams in the league to chase the Stanley Cup champ, and that was done the year before with LA. Everybody was, “great now we have our Jarret Stoll as our third-line center.” Last year, it was more the Chicago Blackhawks again. Who has Bryan Bickell, who has Nick Leddy. How are we getting those pieces and putting it in our lineup? Not just our team, but all teams do that. So it’s not just a focus on LA, it’s the number one team in the league and everybody is trying to beat them.”

On if tonight’s game can make or break the Sharks’ four game road trip:

“For us, we look at this as a separate road trip. One of the things we wanted to do was get back to our own beds after the Ottawa game. We got in, we got home, we got to sleep one night there. We had a day off, and got to sleep another night in our own beds. It’s a separate trip in my mind. You can lump it together if you want, but this is an individual game that stands separately. We will either be batting one thousand or zero when we get home from this road trip.”

On if he is going to change the lines:

“Not necessarily. We will try and use four lines. We will try to get everybody involved in the game. They played last night, and that’s taxing. We just experienced that in Ottawa, it’s taxing. So we will try to play our four lines and try to get everybody involved. We won’t change any approach to the game that we’ve had- for this game tonight anyhow. Then we’ll take the next one when we get there.”

On what makes playing at Staples Center so tough:

“The Kings have made it tough, they’re a very good team at home. They play well, their players rise to the occasion, and they beat a lot of really good teams here. Often by one goal or a goal and a half, and that’s been the difference. We had opportunities last year, looking back in the playoffs, to steal one from here, and we didn’t take advantage of it. I’m sure they’ll be saying the same thing when they come into our building, it’s a hard place to play. It’s called home ice for a reason, and some teams take advantage of it, and they’re one of them.”

On Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick:

“One of the best in the world. That coincides with their home record and their ability to win the Stanley Cup. He is one of the best in the world and we have to find ways to get that extra goal so that we do leave with success.”

On if the coaching staff tells the players anything different before playing against Quick:

“The approach will be the same as any other night. We will try to give them as much information so that we don’t confuse them but they can use it in the game. After that, they’ll make decisions when they’re looking him eye-to eye and have to find the holes.”

On Jeff Carter and Mike Richards:

“They’ve been very good. Short-handed they’re dangerous. Five-on-five, they’ve played together for a long time now, they instinctively know where each other is. Both of them have been able to produce. It doesn’t matter who plays on the wing with them, they’ve been the constant pair. Offensively, I think they’ve been the leaders for their team.”


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